Mr S was intrigued to read in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph that public buildings will have to have separate 'ladies' and 'gents' lavatories in the future. The move – which has already infuriated campaigners who want more gender-neutral facilities – will see building regulations and planning guidance amended to ensure separate 'ladies' and 'gents' facilities are installed in new buildings or those being developed.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick is reported to be behind the changes which could see unisex lavatories, shared by men women, seeing the installation of partitions to ensure the privacy of occupants. A source close to Jenrick told the newspaper:
“It’s a necessity for women to have access to their own provision of toilets, but too often separate sex toilets are being removed by stealth – causing great distress. We’ve listened to the concerns raised by women and the elderly about their security, dignity and safety and are going to maintain and improve safeguards by updating regulations in order to ensure that there is always the necessary provision of separate toilets for everyone in the community.
Of course Jenrick's own colleagues at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government would know all about this, having been the Whitehall department responsible for creating the most gender-neutral toilets between 2013 and 2019 with 30.
A report by the Taxpayers' Alliance has found that in the six years between these dates, at least £57,467 was spent by just three government departments to create such toilets. Priti Patel's Home Office came top with a total spend of £36,963, with more than £8,000 spent on providing signage for the toilets while the cash-strapped Ministry of Defence spent £14,887 on 13 cubicles and the Department for International Development splurged £5,617 on just two toilets.
Steerpike wonders if the mandarins at MCHLG will be practicing what they preach in future or if it will be yet more money down the drain.